Operation Aspie


Hey blog world! I’m back! I’ve been very busy, especially lately but I have some time on my hands today and thought I’d get another post up.

One of the biggest things that happened to me lately is I experienced something for the first and hopefully last time. In all my 19 years of life I have had many, many visits to the Janeway due to my Aspergers, Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, and let’s face it, overall clumsiness (I’ve broken my arm and about 4 years ago sprained my wrist while at the Janeway!) and these past two years have brought a few trips to the E.R of the Health Science Center, but… never in all this time had I been admitted into either hospital or had an operation! That is… until last week.

Intestinal issues lead to me needing surgery and I was a mix of both excited and scared out of my mind! I was excited to finally get my irritating issue permanently fixed, but this being my first surgery and hospitalization, I was also very scared!! I’m very thankful for my best friend Peter and my sister Miranda who both talked with me about this and helped ease my fear a little bit.

Last Sunday was a pretty big day. My Dad’s 55th, or as he called it “double nickel” Birthday, and also the day before my surgery. My family went out to Ches’s fish and chips for dinner and because I was due to fast after midnight, I allowed myself a “pig out day” and ate my absolute fill! Two MASSIVE onion rings (and I wish I had taken a picture because the size of Ches’s onion rings is unbelievable!!) and a one piece fish and chips with dressing. A “last dinner” of sorts fit for a queen! I didn’t finish the entire thing (though I said I would be a pig that day, I do still have my limits!) but ate most of it and it was yummy! Later that evening, after eating our leftovers for supper we had Birthday cake! A double chocolate brownie cake from Sobey’s!!

After lunch when we returned home from the restaurant, I found a gift from my sister waiting for me in the kitchen. She must have thought I was being admitted for a month! She gave me a grocery bag full of paperbacks (lots of “Sweet Valley High”, “Pretty Little Liars” and one of those “Chicken Soup For The Soul” books) and a pink, plastic briefcase full of coloring pages, coloring books, activity books and art supplies! God love her. She went a little over the top, but I really appreciated the gesture.

I spent Sunday evening packing my suitcase making sure I had all my essentials with me. Stuffy the dragon (he’s my favorite stuffed toy who goes everywhere with me. He’s excellent moral support when I’m sad, scared or overwhelmed.), my “Bob’s Burgers” coloring book, my laptop and my classic “VeggieTales” DVD box set. And of course I made sure to pack all other important things, pajamas, my toothbrush, etc.

I ended the evening surrounded by family who I don’t get to see too often. My sister from Australia called me on Skype! I miss her a lot because she’s on the other side of the world so I get really excited when I hear that Skype ringtone and see that she’s calling! We talked about school, my operation the next day, my nephew Lincoln’s upcoming Birthday (he’s going to be three soon! I can’t believe it!) and my new little niece on the way (her name will be Gwen and she’s due sometime this month!) It was so nice catching up with her. I also got to babysit my younger cousins while my uncle took their big brother to his hockey game. They are 9 and 7 and the sweetest two kids! I love it when I get to babysit and hang out with them. We played a Spongebob video game on my GameCube and then watched “LarryBoy and the Fib From Outer Space”! I had a ton of fun that evening.

The next morning was the big day! I had to get up early because I had to be at the hospital at 8:00. I am not a morning person and I can’t function until I’ve had a cup of Tetley! Being deprived of that was not fun! Nor was being deprived of food! I really wanted breakfast and was not happy that I couldn’t get any! I was also still very scared knowing that very soon I would be under the knife! I took a few deep breaths and gave Stuffy a hug to try and calm myself down. It worked slightly.

When we got to the hospital, I was asked a multitude of questions by the secretary in the waiting room and then given a bracelet. Then I sat down and read “The Penultimate Peril”, the second last book in Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, one of my favorite series of books! Though I tried to enjoy my book and keep my mind off of what was soon to happen, my brain kept focusing on the surgery and that did not help my nerves!

I felt even more scared when a nurse called my name! But soon, my fear dissipated a little bit thanks to her. She introduced herself (Lorraine was her name) and was very friendly and that made me feel a little bit at ease. She brought me and mom to a room with lots of chairs surrounded by curtains. I changed into a gown, sat in a surprisingly comfy chair and was asked all the same questions as I was at the front desk. I liked how Lorraine wasn’t all monotone and serious like the lady at the front desk. She even cracked a few jokes during the process! One I distinctly remember was she asked me if I had any tattoos and I said no. She then made me an offer “Do you want any while you’re under anesthetic?” I laughed and said no thank you. She said “Come on! What about a nice butterfly on your arm?”  Again I turned her down. It was great to be able to laugh. That really helped bring my fear and anxiety down. After she checked my vitals, it was just a matter of waiting until it was time for my surgery. She offered to recline my chair and give me a warm blanket. That offer I didn’t turn down! The blanket was fresh out of the blanket warmer so it was nice and toasty! I loved it! Mom gave me back my book and I continued reading. “I could get used to this!” I thought to myself as I relaxed.

A few minutes later, Lorraine returned sadly stating, “I have come to stab you.” Great! Needles are one of my favorite things! Sarcasm sign

I am “my father’s daughter” as mom says. Both of us don’t handle needles very well! I get very, very panicked. Thank God for Stuffy who helps keep me a little bit sane in times like this! I gave him a big hug and looked the other way. It was over before I knew it and it wasn’t too bad! Then, the stinging began. Lorraine told me beforehand it was a blood thinner she was giving me and that it would sting. I thought it would only be a tiny sting for a second, but it lasted for I think maybe two minutes and felt like a swarm of bees had attacked my arm!

Soon, my name was called again and I was brought to another room with another set of reclining chairs. Stuffy wasn’t. Him being my moral support and comfort I was sad and scared to go on without him. I gave him one last hug, asked him to wish me luck and gave him to mom. When we arrived at our destination I sat down and was offered another warm blanket. This time, I had no book, so knowing that I was one step closer to my surgery and seeing people in scrubs coming from every direction, not knowing where they are going, why they are there of if they are dealing with me, my mind went into panic mode again! I wished I had Stuffy in my lap to comfort me.

After what felt like an eternity, a number of people in scrubs came to talk to me. My surgeon, anesthesiologist, and a few med students. They asked me questions and asked if I had any. One of my biggest ones was am I going to be put to sleep using anesthetic gas or will I have to face another needle. I had to face another needle. I was not looking forward to that IV!

Soon, it was go time. I was lead into the O.R. Another toasty warm blanket was laid over me, my vitals were taken again and the anesthesiologist started preparing to put the IV in my hand. I was very scared so one of the nurses very kindly offered to hold my hand. She then started talking to me to get my mind off things. She asked if I had seen any good movies lately. I couldn’t think of the last movie I’d been to the theatre to see, so I said “It’s not a recent one, but I watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the other day!” and she said that was a good movie and we talked a bit about it. Then, the anesthesiologist asked me a question, “Do you like horror movies?” “No way!” I said “I couldn’t even handle “Little Shop of Horrors”!!!” he laughed and said “Oh, “A Cure For Wellness” looks good, but I guess you won’t be going out to see that then!” Before he started the IV meds to knock me out, he asked me if I had any questions. There was one that had been on my mind for the longest time. I asked “I’ve been told that I talk and sometimes sing in my sleep. Will that happen when I’m under the anesthetic?” I never did get my answer. The anesthesiologist just laughed and said “Are you any good?” I said “I think so. I’m a voice student of Peter Halley’s so having an excellent teacher like him sure makes a difference!” He thought that was pretty cool and told me that he’s a fan of Peter’s and he seems like a really great guy. He’s absolutely right!!

Soon, he started administering the anesthetic and he put an oxygen mask on my face. At first I didn’t really feel anything, but after a minute or two, I swore I saw the ceiling tiles moving backwards, like I was being wheeled into another room. Not long after that, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just blackness.

I don’t remember much after that. I just remember coming to in a hospital bed in recovery. Because I was still a little loopy and sleepy from the anesthetic, I don’t remember much about that either.

An hour or so later, I was brought up to my room. It was in a wing that sadly I knew well. 4 North B. One of my co-workers had stayed in a room in that wing following a car accident last year and I visited him and brought coffee and muffins every chance I got, and my dad, 6 years ago had spent 15 days and nights in the same room I was in! I jokingly thanked him for passing that down to me.

Getting off the stretcher I was on and into my bed was no easy task! I was hit all the suddenly with a burst of agonizing pain in my abdomen. I was told that was normal after the surgery I’d just had. I was not happy about that. Even the slightest movement, lifting my arm, turning the pages of my book, caused me a lot of pain! It was not fun.

When I got into the bed, I was pleasantly surprised! Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to be comfy! It wasn’t as comfy as my own bed, but it was nice.Mom unpacked all my things and stayed with me for a little while.
My throat was sore and dry and my voice was super firetrucked up after my surgery! I swear to God I sounded like one of those fairy tale trolls that lives under a bridge! Mom suggested I push my call button and ask for a Popsicle. I thought about it, but hesitated. Now that she mentioned it, I thought one would be nice right about now, but I didn’t want to be a burden to the nurse. I thought to myself “She has more important things to do than getting me a Popsicle.” Mom reassured me that if I really, really needed it, I wasn’t being a burden, so, still a little hesitant I did it. The nurse didn’t mind at all. When she came back with one she handed it to me and said “All we have is orange, I hope that’s ok.” Of course it was! Orange is the best Popsicle flavor!

Later that evening, supper came. Because I had just had surgery I was on a diet of clear fluids. My supper was chicken broth, tea, cranberry juice and lime Jell-O. I was absolutely starving after having fasted for so long so I happily, albeit painfully tucked into my meal. Again I was surprised. It tasted pretty good! I quite enjoyed the chicken broth and the tea was really nice too. I didn’t touch the Jell-O though, I put that to the side to give to my niece who I knew was coming to visit that night. I don’t like Jell-O, but she does.

That night she came along with my mom and dad. They brought me a bouquet of flowers! I loved them! It really brightened up my windowsill. During their visit, we all talked and laughed for a good while, it was nice to be together as a family again.

On my wall, near the window there was a whiteboard and a marker. My niece saw this as an opportunity. She drew a cute little border around my room number and asked me what else she thought I should draw. For a bit of a laugh I said “A cow driving a truck! Give him a trucker hat and put him behind the wheel of a big semi!” She delivered!

cowWhenever I was feeling down during my stay and needed a laugh, all I had to do was look at that cow! The nurses all got a good laugh out of it too!

That first night I didn’t sleep very easy. Thank God for my sister Miranda. I called her really late at night because I couldn’t sleep, was feeling very anxious and scared and needed to talk. She picked up the phone and helped me to relax and calm down. I am so glad she told me her phone line was open anytime I needed her. That really meant a lot. I called her many times during my stay if I couldn’t sleep, was worried about something, was feeling lonely, etc. Hearing her voice on the other line was so comforting.

The next day, Tuesday, was a very busy and absolutely great day! It didn’t start off too well, a nurse came by to take my blood, but it all was uphill from there! Not long after this, my doctor came by and told me that I could have solid food!! I was very happy about that.

When breakfast came around, I guess he forgot to pass on to the kitchen staff that I could have solid food now. My menu card had changed, but not in the way I’d hoped. They moved me up to a full fluid diet, still liquid but with a bit more substance. Cream of wheat, orange juice, milk and tea. Another puzzling thing was that I was wearing an orange allergy bracelet stating that I couldn’t have cow’s milk, and yet there was a carton on my tray?? Strange that didn’t get passed on to the kitchen. I’m not a cream of wheat fan, so I got mom to bring me up something a bit better for breakfast. I had toast and a banana. She also brought up a yogurt cup, but I wasn’t in the mood for yogurt quite yet so I laid that to the side.

Later on, at lunchtime I was brought another tray of liquid food. Beef and barley soup broth, chocolate instant breakfast, orange juice, milk, vanilla pudding and tea. I tasted the chocolate instant breakfast and it was pretty good. Very rich and creamy. But, knowing that cow’s milk doesn’t agree with me, I didn’t drink anymore of it afraid that it might be mixed into it. I gave the beef broth a try and to be honest, it tasted like soy sauce that had been heated on the stove! It wasn’t the best, but I was hungry so I ate it anyway.

After lunch I got lots of visitors! My boyfriend Glen and his grandparents came over for a few hours. Glen made me the sweetest homemade get well soon card! I absolutely loved it! Though I was still in a considerable amount of pain, my doctor told me to try getting up around and walking, so I asked Glen to give me a hand getting out of bed and hand in hand we went for a walk around 4 North B. I loved it.

Later, the newest member of my family showed up!! My cousin brought her new 4 week old son Nathaniel for a visit! It was my first time meeting him in person! He’s such a precious little angel! I even got to hold him! My heart overflowed with happiness as the little darling slept in my arms.

That evening, it was getting close to supper and I was feeling a bit hungry, so I decided to have the yogurt cup that mom brought me. I got about two or three spoonfuls in when my butterfingers dropped the yogurt cup, thus covering my pajama top, blanket, pillow and the IV port in my left hand with yogurt!! I pushed the call button and apologized profusely to the nurse when she arrived for having to bother her because of my clumsiness! She smiled and said it’s ok, no big deal and then set out to get me a new pillowcase and blanket! Still feeling rather stunned after what I’d done, I was glad the nurse didn’t think anything of it.

Seconds after this incident, who should walk in but my best friend Peter!! I was very happy to see him, but at the same time, also very embarrassed!! There he was all done up like a stick of gum in a suit and dress shoes, and I had my white, cotton, dalmatian pajama top, blanket, pillow and IV port covered with light purple field berry yogurt!! Oh me nerves! Thankfully, he didn’t seem to mind.

Earlier that day he texted me asking if I needed anything brought to me. That was very nice of him. I thought for a bit and came up with a few ideas. Now that I could finally eat solid food, I asked if he could bring me something made by our chef friend Josh, maybe some pasta salad. I also asked for some peppermint tea from Tim’s and if he didn’t mind, his copy of “Tuesday’s With Morrie”. I’d seen it on his coffee table for the past few weeks when I’d come to his house to work on the play we’re writing and it seemed like a really interesting book to read. Peter brought all the things I’d asked for. 

He has been flat out lately with the Kiwanis music festival, spending all day going back and forth to classes and rehearsals. It meant a whole lot to me that he was able to find that small window of time to drop by and see me.

Shortly before he left, the kitchen staff brought me in my supper. I thought about turning it down as Peter had just brought me something, but I decided to leave it and pick at both things. I was very happy to see that they had finally gotten the memo and I was moved up to where I should be, the regular diet! Solid food!!!

After saying my goodbyes to Peter, I took a look at what was on the tray of food from the hospital. Sweet and sour meatballs, frozen peas and carrots and taters, apple juice to drink and vanilla pudding for desert. I then looked under the tinfoil of Peter’s plate, three different kinds of pasta salads! I ate almost everything, both plates of food were delicious!

That night, my parents, poppy and his friend Jean came for a visit. My poppy, God love him, brought two decks of cards!! Both of us love playing cards, especially Queens! I was very happy to see those two decks and get to have a game with him, mom and Jean! I lost, but I didn’t care. It was really nice to just have everyone gathered around my bed for a hand of cards.

Most of my Wednesday was spent reading and coloring. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing both those things, but felt rather lonely. Mom had gone on to work so it was just me and Stuffy. I hoped I’d soon get a visitor or two.

My wish was soon granted! I got to see two of my friends who I very rarely get to see! My former rhythmic gymnastics and bowling teammate Heather and my co-worker Jordan both came! They are both really awesome people who I love being around. Because of school, I don’t get to see either of them as often as I used to so it was a real treat to have both of them come and visit me.
I got lots of lovely presents from my visitors, adult coloring books, jujubes, a journal and so many beautiful flowers that I started referring to the windowsill as “my garden”! While I appreciated all the lovely new things, what really meant the most to me was that the givers showed up! Getting to hold baby Nathaniel, catch up with old friends, and just have some company to keep me from being lonely was present enough. Thank you very much to all of you who came to visit. I really appreciated that you took time out of your day to come and see me.

That night was the hardest out of all of them! I couldn’t sleep at all! There was too much going on! All the lights were on, IV’s were constantly beeping, nurses were everywhere talking to each other and two of my roommates who needed taking care of, it was not a pleasant night for anyone in my room!

The next day, I got some wonderful news from my doctor! I could go home!! I was very, very happy to hear that. My time in hospital wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, some parts of it were even sort of enjoyable, but even so I couldn’t wait to get back home!

Mom helped me pack my suitcase, I said goodbye and get well soon to my roommates and mom and I left. When we got to the door, I could see the sun was brightly shining! It’s like it knew I was coming home! It was wonderful!
When I got home, the very first thing I did was cuddle with my sweet cat Ozzy. I missed him so much while I was in the hospital! My niece scoffed when I told her that and said “You’ve only been in there 3 1/2 days!” Yes dear, but it felt like an eternity! I can’t begin to explain just how happy I was to lay down and snuggle with him again! My heart overflowed!

I asked mom if we could have Chinese food and cheesecake for supper to celebrate me coming home. That’s exactly what we did! We had wonton soup, fried rice, chicken balls, chow mein, all the good stuff! Sitting in my kitchen with my family eating mom’s home cooked food was the best. It was great to be home!

Thank you to the wonderful doctors and nurses of the Health Sciences for taking good care of me. As one of the nurses said to me before I left “I hope I never see you again… except maybe in the grocery store!”

Leah

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